Review: Batman: Turning Points trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 17, 2007

In studying the Batman mythos through Batman's relationship with Commissioner Gordon, Batman: Turning Points offers something of an unusual perspective on the Dark Knight. Through most of this book, Batman is actively seeking Jim Gordon's help, even offering to be his friend, a characterization far more in line with today's post-Infinite Crisis Batman than the Batman who was around when DC first published Turning Points. The series doesn't establish much in terms of new Batman continuity, but it's full of solid writing overall, backed up by art by Dick Giordano and Paul Pope, among others.

The writers here--Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and Chuck Dixon--have all written their share of hard-boiled Batman, and it's strange to have them writing Batman as such a nice guy. Indeed, the writers seem aware that they're putting to lie some of the most integral parts of the Batman legend; in the end, an little girl remarks that Batman is "not scary ... not scary at all" and Batman is amusedly forced to admit, "No, I guess not."

The implication is that by partnering with Jim Gordon, Batman can never truly be a "mysterious creature of the night," even when he tries to retreat after the death of Jason Todd. For those who don't mind seeing Batman crack a smile, this may be a welcome admission; my sense is that at the time this was presented as more a reason for removing Jim Gordon from the Batman titles than keeping him in.

Batman: Turning Points appears to make no bones about butting against established continuity; Jim Gordon's introduction to Dick Grayson, at the least, distinctly contradicts Robin: Year One and Batman: Dark Victory (the former potentially more canon than the later). The early appearance by Mr. Freeze is similarly hard to square with the character's most recent origins.

At the same time, for longtime Batman fans, the different eras presented here are a nice trip down Gotham Police memory lane; Batman: Year One's Branden makes an appearance, as does Petit, Montoya (partnered with both Harvey Bullock and Crispus Allen), and Michael Allen. I'm reading this trade before beginning to read the Gotham Central trades, and while Turning Point doesn't definitively set up those books, there is some carry-over.

For more weighty Batman, then, consider Grant Morrison's Batman and Son. For a nice, light, heart-warming Batman read, you could certainly do worse than Turning Points. (And when's Paul Pope going to do some in-continuity Batman work, I ask you!)

[Contains full covers. Trade Paperback Slugfest: Batman: Turning Points just doesn't have the heft to fend off Supergir: Candor. It's girl power one more time!]

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2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this one too. You're right about it not feeling particularly substantial because it breaks so much with continuity, but it's an interesting look at various poitns nonetheless. Just as well, it's that clashing that actually makes it interesting, as they're putting a spotlight on the various Batman eras - for instance, that weird issue with crazy Azrael metal Batman.

    Problem is, since they're all so disparate, with the exception of the first and last issue, it feels like you're constantly in the middle of history, and the issues don't connect so well together. Overall though, it is a nice read.

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  2. The recent Karl Kesel Superman/Batman: World's Finest is much the same way--the middle isn't the point so much as the beginning and end. The art remains good throughout though, and sometimes that's enough.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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